Hi! Hope everyone is doing well and getting those mammograms. Thanks for reading. Judy xoxoxo

This is twilightgma1954's story. I hope she enjoys it. Much love to Bobbie, Em and Meagan for their support and pre-reading.

None of this Twilight stuff belongs to me - it all belongs to SM.


Prologue.

The brainwashing started when I was ten.

Well, he didn't call it brainwashing, of course. He called it "learning and understanding the expectations, the obligations, and the joys and rewards of being a Cullen".

My grandfather took each of us into his office on our tenth birthday and every birthday after that until we were eighteen. None of us was ever allowed in his office unless we were invited in on our birthdays. We knew what was to come from the older kids who had been through it, but still, that tenth birthday was one of those milestones that are so magical and frightening in all of our childhoods.

I remember it so well. I was dressed in a suit and felt like the tie was choking me. I was very nervous and remember thinking I was going to wet my pants. I didn't see my grandfather too often since he traveled a lot, taking care of the family business, while I attended the best boarding school money could buy. My grandfather was an intimidating man. I was actually scared of the man and wasn't sure I even liked him that much. He was always grilling me when he saw me. "Are you getting good grades, Edward? Who are your friends, Edward? Are you obeying your mother and father, Edward?" I don't remember him ever hugging me or playing with me.

I never bothered to ask the older kids what his office looked like; I didn't need to. I had my own vision of it. I saw a grand room with beautiful furniture and shelves upon shelves of books all around. I pictured him sitting in a leather chair behind a huge desk looking as important as I knew he was. That's one thing my grandfather never let us forget – he was a very important man. I saw us having a more grown-up conversation now that I was ten. I saw him recognizing my maturity and great knowledge from the best boarding school in the country. I expected him to love me, I think. I really wanted him to love me.

Nothing was what I thought it would be. His office was small and cluttered, and there wasn't a book to be seen. His desk was this ugly metal thing and buried in papers. He wore an old t-shirt and kind of smelled.

He didn't look up when I walked into the room, and I stood there, not knowing what to do. When he finally looked at me, he didn't say hello or tell me to sit down. He started asking questions; the same questions he always asked me before I was ten and mature and knowledgeable.

When the questions were over, the brainwashing started.

You are a Cullen.

You are the future of this family.

You are expected to act like a Cullen, and never bring us shame.

You will have the best of everything in life.

You will have opportunities that are unimaginable to most people.

You are expected to excel in everything you do.

You will go to the best schools and take your place in the family business afterward.

You are expected to know the right people, go to the right parties, and marry the right woman.

"And, most importantly," he said, "never disappoint me. I don't like to be disappointed, Edward. Remember that."

Over the years, the questions changed a bit, but it was mostly the same brainwashing every year.

He took more of an interest in me when I was a senior in high school and decided what college I would attend and what I would major in.

College: Harvard

Major: Law.

I was destined to be a corporate attorney.

In the eight years I was required to go to his office, I never questioned any of it. I knew who I was. I was a Cullen. I was a kid from a very wealthy, powerful family, and I accepted it easily. I did what was expected and excelled in school and sports. I was friends with the right people and dated the girls who were acceptable, who were just like me. I never disappointed my grandfather. I had a childhood enjoying the finest things in life and looked forward to my future enjoying whatever fine things the adult world offered to me. My future was laid out, and it looked pretty damn good to me.

I thought I had it all until Bella walked into my life. What followed brought me to one sad, pathetic truth… that my piece of shit life could be summed up in one quote from Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.

In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.